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Slamming Science

I was watching a BBO expert game
when East–West misfired with these
cards:

West
♠ A Q 4
A J 5
7 4
♣ K 9 7 6 3
East
♠ 5
K 9 4 2
K Q 8 3
♣ A Q J 5
WEst East
1♣ 1
1NT 3♣
3 5♣
Pass

Making six. Personally, I wouldn’t have thought twice about raising 1 to 2 as West, though the 1NT bid was not clearly wrong. But when East jumped to 5♣, West surely could have bid 6♣ with two aces and a fifth club. Maybe he was worried about diamonds, but it’s hard to imagine an East hand that would bid 5♣ with neither major-suit ace and nothing in diamonds.

Some players might cite the Principle of Fast Arrival: “East’s 5♣, instead of 4♣, said he wanted to play there: A bid of 5♣ is weaker than 4♣.” I would reply that no bid that offers to play at an 11-trick contract can be “weak.”

The auction, I thought, was a reflection of modern expert slam bidding. Players are too cautious. They over-focus on science. They fear bidding a slam unless it will be cold even against crystal-ball defense.

Here are six slam-bidding principles that this curmudgeon stands by:

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